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Should I reject my credit card's mandatory arbitration clause?
January 11, 2014 12:39 AM   Subscribe

The cardmember agreement of my new Amex card includes the right to reject a mandatory arbitration clause by sending a letter within 45 days of my first purchase. (Background here, example agreement here). You are not a lawyer, you are not my lawyer, you probably don't even know what a lawyer is...but is there any good reason not to reject binding arbitration? I am already a deadbeat.
posted by ecmendenhall to Law & Government (7 answers total)
 
Reject the rent-a-judges!
posted by steinsaltz at 12:43 AM on January 11


Send the letter. You will always get the chance for arbitration like Amex wants, but you only get one chance (within the first 45 days) to say you don't automatically want it.

Also, in the long run, this PROBABLY won't ever ever ever matter.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:45 AM on January 11


Be careful, though. Read the letter to make sure that failing to accept the changes in the cardmember agreement does NOT cancel the card. This is often the case for other cards, where they will be happy to let you continue to pay off the existing bill, but not charge anything more.
posted by calwatch at 1:31 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


HELL YES REJECT MANDATORY ARBITRATION!

the american courthouse is the palace of your rights and exceptional status as an american, in it, you can do things impossible in any other forum, like holding capital to account.

corporations will tell you that arbitration is more economical and "streamlined" or whatever. no it isn't. your tax dollars already paid for that judge up there on your bench, and for the janitors who sweep your palace after hours. in arbitration, the corporations typically pay for the arbitrator's services and are regular customers, you are just a one-off player, and what kind of justice do you expect from such an arrangement? your palace key is memorialized (not granted) in the 7th amendment right to jury trial in civil matters. capital would like you to hand over your key, and if you do that, you will never get it back.
posted by bruce at 1:47 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


the american courthouse is the palace of your rights and exceptional status as an american, in it, you can do things impossible in any other forum, like holding capital to account.

That's the theory in any case.

In practice, state trial courts tend to be something of a shitshow. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in a hearing where the judge has said, in almost as many words, that he doesn't care what the law or rules say.

Neither side has any guarantee whether the trial judge can be arsed to follow the law. Pretty much the only way of making sure that you get the correct legal result is being willing to file an appeal. State appellate courts almost uniformly force trial courts to follow the law, but unless the losing party is willing to fund that appeal, the ruling of the trial court, with all its likely ineptitude, will stand.

All of which to say. . . sure, go ahead and reject if you like. But don't think that you're somehow avoiding an arbitrary and capricious, capital-friendly forum for "the palace of your rights". You're avoiding a cheap arbitrary and capricious forum for an expensive arbitrary and capricious forum.
posted by valkyryn at 3:49 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


your palace key is memorialized (not granted) in the 7th amendment right to jury trial in civil matters

Oh, and while we're on the subject, there is no constitutional right to a jury trial in state court civil matters. The 7th Amendment only grants that right in federal courts.
posted by valkyryn at 4:50 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


The articles seem to say that with AmEx its a real choice for you to reject the arbitration agreement. However I would still be prepared for them to close the account with the full balance due immediately. Since you dont carry a balance, its less risky.

I say go for it in this case, but be aware every other letter from other companies letting you opt out of arbitration opts you out of an account as a consequence.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:19 AM on January 11


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